The aboriginal calendar or how time was measured

Between the municipalities of Artenara and Gáldar, about 20 minutes north of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, there is a place that defies history. Located in the Sacred Mountains, the Risco Caído is an archaeological site of incalculable value and where you can find an aboriginal calendar, one of the oldest ways of measuring time.

The vestiges of the first settlers and their aboriginal calendar

The past of the Canary Islands is full of curiosities that explain the evolution of human beings up to the present day. The archipelago has several interesting sites from which to discover the vestiges of its past. One of the most recommendable is the Risco Caído Archaeological Site, a complex of caves used by the first settlers of the island for ceremonial and habitation purposes.

This site is the first World Heritage Site on the island of Gran Canaria and in the province of Las Palmas and the fifth in the Canary archipelago. Located on the left bank or shady side of the Barranco Hondo, the site is composed of a series of ceremonial, residential and agricultural-livestock caves. In some of them there are excavated caves and numerous engravings and, of course, there is a famous solar calendar used by the ancient Canary Islanders.

Cave C6, an aboriginal solar calendar

Today, something is still going on inside this cave complex, specifically in cave C6. Every morning, from April to September, the first beam of light streams through the small lateral opening of this almogarén, a place of prayer for the aboriginal Canary Islanders, precisely illuminating the enigmatic engravings on the west wall, giving rise to an aboriginal calendar.

This light signal served the aborigines as a guide to mark the passage of 180 days between the summer solstice and autumn solstice, as well as to control the harvests. During the cold months, the moonlight takes over this rudimentary but precise calendar.

A sacred place for Aboriginal people declared a World Heritage Site

Declared a World Heritage Site in 2019, this temple carved into the stone is estimated to be up to 20 centuries old. However, it was only discovered in 1996 by archaeologist Julio Cuenca. The discovery of these caves, and this ancient astronomical observatory in particular, demonstrate that the ancient aborigines possessed a solid culture that places them on a par with ancient civilizations as renowned as the Egyptian or Hawaiian. This cultural landscape can be freely explored through routes and guides, activities and an interpretation center with all kinds of information about the site.

Aboriginal calendar

Gran Canaria, an island to learn about aboriginal culture

The surroundings of the Gran Canarian municipality of Tejeda are also an excellent place to explore the aboriginal culture of the island.

The Roque Bentayga, in the heart of the Caldera de Tejada, houses a fortified settlement on its slope. Excavated taking advantage of the facility offered by this type of volcanic stratum, the enclosure served as a place of residence, storage and cemetery. It also has an almogarén to control the harvest season. In the same mountain range we find the Roque de las Cuevas del Rey, a well-kept complex of five levels of caves connected by narrow paths and rock stairs.

On the other hand, the Artenara mountain, in the same municipality, is home to the Risco Chapín and the caves of El Caballero and Los Candiles. The latter, which owes its name to the presence of luminaries in its interior, is a small hollow excavated in the cliff, which contains one of the largest concentrations of ideograms found worldwide.

If you want to know more secrets of the Canary Islands, as well as their festivals, culture, traditions and most delicious recipes, we leave you below the link to our most outstanding sections: Explore the Canary Islands Gastronomy and Culture and traditions.

Paula Vera



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